ST. LOUIS (AP) — Former St. Louis Blues defenseman Bob Plager probably died of a “cardiac event,” not injuries from a highway accident, the St. Louis medical examiner said Friday.
Plager, 78, an original member of the Blues whose long association with the team continued until his death, was alone in his car when the accident happened Wednesday afternoon on Interstate 64 near downtown St. Louis.
Medical Examiner Dr. Michael Graham performed an autopsy and said Plager hadn’t sustained any injuries in the crash that would have been life-threatening. He said his preliminary finding was that Plager suffered the cardiac event – Graham said he didn’t like to use the term heart attack – before crashing his SUV on Wednesday.
“We think that the cardiac event caused the crash,” Graham concluded.
Further tests and routine toxicology results are pending.
A report from St. Louis police said Plager’s SUV veered to the left and struck a minivan before hitting a concrete wall on the right, then crossing back over and striking a concrete center median. Plager was pronounced dead at a hospital. The driver and passenger in the van were not hurt, police said.
Plager, originally from Ontario, Canada, came to the Blues from the New York Rangers when the NHL expanded in 1967-68. He played 11 seasons for St. Louis – teaming for a stretch with brothers Barclay and Bill – and later worked for the organization in a variety of roles. He coached the Blues for 11 games in 1992.
He scored 20 goals with 126 assists and 802 penalty minutes in 644 regular-season NHL games, and added two goals, 17 assists and 195 penalty minutes in 74 playoff games.